England has introduced new rules regarding the usage of face coverings. The government has made wearing face masks compulsory not only on public transport, as introduced 15 June, but also in shops and supermarket starting 24 July.
England seems to be catching up to this rule quite late compared to many other countries. As seen at the beginning of the pandemic, Asian nations such as China, Japan and South Korea made the use of face masks mandatory as one of the first measures in order to prevent the spread of the virus. However, other parts of the world were sceptical. Most Western countries are not accustomed to wearing face coverings such as Asian countries, where it is common use. This is both to prevent pollution and due to previous experience with the 2002 SARS epidemic.
When it comes to Europe, the majority of the countries have enforced the use of this protective device. As I am currently in Italy, my home country, I have seen how this rule came into place on 5 April. From then on, they were mandatory in supermarkets. Then, it became every time you would leave the house and now only in closed spaces. I have become so used to seeing people wearing face coverings that I do not feel comfortable if someone is without one less than one meter from me.
So, why do you need to wear a face mask?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has changed its guideline and recommends the use of face coverings for the general public. Health experts say that it is helpful in the prevention of the spread of the disease for many reasons.
Let’s look at the two main reasons:
The first one is source control which means that the intent is to prevent the spread of droplets of an infected person from transmitting the virus to others.
The second one is the prevention of healthy wearer against the virus.
Wearing a face covering is not going to make you invincible to the virus. It is, however, known to lower the chances of spreading and subsequently catching the disease.
If it is so important, then why make it mandatory only now?
I believe it’s confusing for the English public that this rule is being introduced only now, almost five months from the start of the pandemic. I actually remember being at University and listening to the government’s guidelines about how face masks were not effective at lowering the spread of the virus.
So, what has changed? Well, with time came new discoveries and a deeper understanding of how Covid-19 actually works.
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Wearing a mask is actually simpler than you might think. There are many different types that you can choose from, and fabric masks actually come in different colours. I personally think it will become a habit that we eventually need to get used to. Not only for our sake but especially for others.
Lastly, just as a reminder, if you don’t want to protect yourself think about those who are much more vulnerable than yourself. By wearing a mask, you’re protecting them too.